House committee investigating Speaker Mike Madigan likely to be hampered by politics

Illinois House rules dictate that the committee investigating Speaker Michael Madigan is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans — and like everything else in politics today that partisan divide pretty much ensures lots of arguing and little action.

That infighting, as well as the makeup of the House itself, could determine how much the committee is able to get done and the result of its investigation — should anything come of it at all.

That’s because while the investigation committee is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans, the House is solidly Democrat, with a 74-member supermajority that towers over the 44-member Republican Caucus.

Advancing a charge to a disciplinary committee would take at least one of the Democrats siding with the three Republicans — and if the past few weeks are any indication, that’s not likely.

The committee plans to hear its first testimony Tuesday from a ComEd representative, but any hopes of hearing from Madigan himself were dashed last week when the speaker declined to appear at all, arguing “I cannot provide information I do not have.”

“It’s difficult to say what will happen at this point without knowing the evidence,” said John Jackson, a longtime analyst of Illinois politics. “The most likely outcome is going to be dependent on some Democrats that are upset with Madigan will have to vote with Republicans for this to ultimately go anywhere, and it’s unclear right this minute whether they will.”

Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, said he’s cautiously optimistic the panel will put politics aside during its proceedings.

But he pointed to the Democratic supermajority in the House, which “makes it much harder for there to be a negative outcome against the speaker.”

House Speaker Mike Madigan talks on his cellphone from his desk during a session of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center, in Springfield, in May.

House Speaker Mike Madigan talks on

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